May 21, 2022 2:21 PM
vanda nosseo meets maker witches
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The planet below is approximately late medieval to early modern, in the most technologically advanced areas, although the presence of magic makes any comparison to Earth fairly imprecise. Somewhat less fertile land is devoted to farming than is usual, at this tech level. Even the most densely populated regions contain significant stretches of apparently-unused fertile land, usually forested. Various other corners of the planet are lagging behind at every previous stage of the tech tree that you might expect to see. There are perhaps four continents, with one separated from the others by much more water than the other three. Alternatively, perhaps it's more a single larger and a single smaller clump of land, excluding various small islands. The smaller clump of land is mostly city-states and small tribes, while the larger clump of land is mostly organized into feudal states, with a couple of large empires, one of which is currently embroiled in a bloody civil war, the biggest of a couple dozen current wars.

There are, of course, also some states that seem to be in the middle of periods of relative peace. One of them, a decently-sized realm that is mostly ignoring a current war between two smaller realms on its border, also happens to have one of the larger settlements in its region, maybe a hundred thousand people all told.

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It is on the capital of this decently-sized realm that Nelen Utopia and his team descend.

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The city's central public square is paved with stone covered in a moderately horrifying amount of animal and human waste. It's ringed on all sides with shops selling food and clothes and rugs and pottery and candles and toys and a dozen other things. It's loud. There are men, women, children, horses, donkeys, and the occasional cow or goat, all going about their business: buying and selling things, arguing with one another, running between other people on unknown errands. In general, the men and the children wear beautiful, well-made, heavily patterned, and vibrantly colorful clothing and jewelry. The young women wear undyed dresses in simple styles. The older women also wear simple undyed dresses, but covered in embroidery depicting a hundred different unrelated scenes and pictures on the same dress, plus the occasional beaded necklace or bracelet. Many wear small cloth bags hanging from necklaces or belts. Occasionally, you see a woman wearing something similar to what the men wear in color and aesthetic quality, but it isn't common.

A set of four tall, thin watchtowers rises up from the middle of the square. A single female corpse hangs from one of them by a rope around its neck, clothed only in an iron anklet around one leg. It's not quite decomposing, yet, but the birds have done some pecking at it. Each of the watchtowers has at least one female archer in it, and all of them draw their bows and aim at the visitors as soon as they appear. There are also archers on the ground (all women), some posted in particular places and some not; many of those pull out bows, too, though none of them fire. Most other people are doing some combination of staring, gasping, and stepping back away from them.

Someone in the crowd does throw a rock at them; it's not immediately clear who it might have been.

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The rock hits Natsuko, who flinches but only a little, and then casts a spell, quietly, healing herself.

"We come in peace!" calls Nelen. "We are peaceful envoys from a place called Vanda Nossëo!"

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"What business does Vanda Nossëo have with us?" calls one of the archers in the watchtowers. The square is much quieter than it was a few seconds ago; it's not that hard to hear her.

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"We're here to offer trade and knowledge!" Nelen calls back.

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One of the women, maybe thirty years old, jumps the whole twenty feet or so from the top of a watchtower to the ground. She lands lightly on her feet, and makes a sign to the people around her. The archers keep their bows drawn, but there are no more rocks.

"Where are the goods you have brought to trade?" asks the woman, addressing Nelen.

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"They are not on our persons; we will bring them down if you want us to establish a place where we can dispense them," Nelen replies. "Right now they are on our flying ship, high up in the sky."

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She cocks her head, equal parts interested and skeptical. "Where did you fly from?"

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"We came here from another universe, impossible to get to even by flying. It was teleported - like this -" He pops an inch backwards. "It left from the planet Vanda Nossëo uses as its capital, in a world next to yours."

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